If you had predicted Mumbai Indians’ title triumph after their solitary win from the first six games, you would have been laughed off.
Nothing was going right for the Rohit Sharma-led side and there were even question marks over the utility of having an army support staff that answered to the who is of who international cricket. From head coach Ricky Ponting to mentor Sachin Tendulkar and fielding coach Jonty Rhodes to Anil Kumble, they had an enviable behind-the-scene cast. Mumbai, however, shed off their indifferent form after half-way stage of IPL-8 and reeled off nine wins out of 10 matches to emerge champions for the second time.
“To be honest there wasn’t any instance where we can say, ‘this is the moment where everything turned around for us,’” said Rohit after Mumbai defeated Chennai Super Kings in the final here on Sunday. “We treated every game as our last and final game because we knew the moment we lose a game we are out of the tournament. We had individuals who stood up to the challenge. At any given situation in a game where we were in a lot of trouble, guys went and took the game away from the opposition. Those kinds of performances happened quite often after the first 5-6 games and this is what you require when you want to win a tournament,” he explained.
Rohit, who was declared the man of the match for his 25-ball 50, was crucial in Mumbai getting off to an explosive start despite losing Parthiv Patel in the first over. The stylish right-hander hammered Mohit Sharma for 16 runs in the second over of the innings and, according to MS Dhoni, that was the moment when Super Kings lost the match. Mumbai eventually went on to pile 202 for five.
“If you look at the average score here, it has been 170-plus,”pointed out Rohit. “We never batted as in to score 200-plus runs, we just batted normally because we know at the Eden it’s always important to have wickets in hands, build partnerships and get the momentum. It’s very important, particularly on this ground because the outfield is very fast. We wanted to bat normally but at the same time we wanted to be aggressive as well. And that’s what exactly we did, we had partnerships… Me and Lendl (Simmons) got a very good partnership and then (Kieron) Pollard and (Ambati) Rayudu finished off really well. It was important for them to just spend some time in the middle to build the momentum,” he reasoned.
With this win, Rohit joined MS Dhoni and Gautam Gambhir as the only skipper to have won two IPL titles and he spoke at length about his captaincy. “I basically try and keep everything simple,” he began. “I stick to my strengths and I listen a lot to myself… On the field whenever I have to make a decision, I go by my instinct. That’s where Ricky Ponting has played a huge part. He has come in and helped me a lot in terms of captaincy. We all know he has been such a good captain for Australia, so he brings that experience with him. Yes, I am enjoying the captaincy right now. The planning, the strategy and everything we did for the past two months really seem to be working very well,” he offered.
DH News Service